If you want to write poetry, you must have poems that deeply move you. Poems you can't live without. I think of a poem as the blood in a blood transfusion, given from the heart of the poet to the heart of the reader. Seek after poems that live inside you, poems that move through your veins.
There is nothing "still" in the remarkably visceral poems of Alexander Long's third collection, Still Life, and nothing is at rest in these restless and edgy poems. Conversational and kinetic, these poems chart the traces left by the shifting overlays of the templates of literature, rock-and-roll, and contemporary culture. As each poem in Still Life attempts to fix a focus upon a scene or subject, the protean natures under view draw the poet into the eddies and complexities of reflection. This is a powerful and moving collection of poems.
David St. John
These are crystalline - oftentimes incandescent - translations of Juarroz's powerful metaphysical poems where eternity and silence jut up against a world where "writing infects the landscape" and there are "more letters than leaves" - The kind of match one hopes for where both the translator and the poet are in luck; new poems which don't leak and yet old poems in which the original passion shines.
If I'm still wistful about On the Road, I look on the rest of the Kerouac oeuvre-the poems, the poems!-in horror. Read Satori in Paris lately? But if I had never read Jack Kerouac's horrendous poems, I never would have had the guts to write horrendous poems myself. I never would have signed up for Mrs. Safford's poetry class the spring of junior year, which led me to poetry readings, which introduced me to bad red wine, and after that it's all just one big blurry condemned path to journalism and San Francisco.
If I'm still wistful about On the Road, I look on the rest of the Kerouac oeuvre--the poems, the poems!--in horror. Read Satori in Paris lately? But if I had never read Jack Kerouac's horrendous poems, I never would have had the guts to write horrendous poems myself. I never would have signed up for Mrs. Safford's poetry class the spring of junior year, which led me to poetry readings, which introduced me to bad red wine, and after that it's all just one big blurry condemned path to journalism and San Francisco.
[Robert] Frost says in a piece of homely doggerel that he has hoped wisdom could be not only Attic but Laconic, Boeotian even "at least not systematic"; but how systematically Frostian the worst of his later poems are! His good poems are the best refutation of, the most damning comment on, his bad: his Complete Poems have the air of being able to educate any faithful reader into tearing out a third of the pages, reading a third, and practically wearing out the rest.
I is for immortality, which for some poets is a necessary compensation. Presumably miserable in this life, they will be remembered when the rest of us are long forgotten. None of them asks about the quality of that remembrance-what it will be like to crouch in the dim hallways of somebody's mind until the moment of recollection occurs, or to be lifted off suddenly and forever into the pastures of obscurity. Most poets know better than to concern themselves with such things. They know the chances are better than good that their poems will die when they do and never be heard of again, that they'll be replaced by poems sporting a new look in a language more current. They also know that even if individual poems die, though in some cases slowly, poetry will continue: that its subjects, it constant themes, are less liable to change than fashions in language, and that this is where an alternate, less lustrous immortality might be. We all know that a poem can influence other poems, remain alive in them, just as previous poems are alive in it. Could we not say, therefore, that individual poems succeed most by encouraging revisions of themselves and inducing their own erasure? Yes, but is this immortality, or simply a purposeful way of being dead?
The poem in Where Good Swimmers Drown are love poems. But love poems that defy the divisions between emotion and intellect, private and public, life and art, writer and reader. To read Elbe's poems is to discover not only what it means to be in love, but what it means to be alive.
Jesse Lee Kercheval
They were full of mysteries and secrets, like... like poems turned into landscapes." "'Poems turned into landscapes.'" he murmured with a slight smile. "And what of Vestenveld's gardens? Do you see poems in them?" "Your gardens are like your country's poetry. Very frilly and organized.
Writing the poems, I came to think that regarding is a form of love, but the regarding is not necessarily accurate. In the poems, people are always misperceiving one another. But misperceptions are a part of being alive to others. You don't need truth or beauty. All you do is perceive. That's all you need to have loved and lived fully.
At another level, though, poems can craft an eraser - we can't revise the past, but poems allow us some malleability, an increased freedom of response, comprehension, feeling. Choice, what choices are possible for any given person, is another theme that's run through my work from the start.
As a guiding principle I believe that every poem must be its own sole freshly created universe, and therefore have no belief n 'tradition' or a common myth-kitty or casual allusions in poems to other poems or poets, which last I find unpleasantly like the talk of literary understrappers letting you see they know the right people.
I can't stand THE DEPRESSED. It's like a job. It's the only thing they work hard at. Oh good my depression is very well today. Oh good today I have another mysterious symptom and I will have another one tomorrow. The DEPRESSED are full of hate and bile and when they are not having panic attacks they are writing poems. What do they want their poems to DO? Their depression in the most VITAL thing about them. Their poems are threats. ALWAYS threats. There is no sensation keener or more active than their pain. They give nothing back except their depression. It's just another utility. Like electricity and water and gas and democracy. They could not survive without it.
My dad, a mathematician, raised me to believe that mathematics is beautiful, so math is a part of my imaginative terrain. In my late 20s I wrote several 11-line poems because I wanted to create poems that couldn't be uniformly divided into couplets, tercets, or quatrains, 11 being a prime number.
Lily Brown writes with and against things in poems that are coiled up tight as springs (or snakes). A believer in the power of the line, she writes, 'I think the plastics/and sink them' then 'Where is the sand/man hiding the dirt.' These terse, biting poems will make you look around and wonder.
I wrote two poems about the '81 uprisings: 'Di Great Insohreckshan' and 'Mekin Histri.' I wrote those two poems from the perspective of those who had taken part in the Brixton riots. The tone of the poem is celebratory because I wanted to capture the mood of exhilaration felt by black people at the time.
Linton Kwesi Johnson
During the Gulf War, I remember two little third grade girls saying to me - after I read them some poems by writers in Iraq - 'You know, we never thought about there being children in Iraq before.' And I thought, 'Well those poems did their job, because now they'll think about everything a little bit differently.'
Naomi Shihab Nye
It's difficult to talk about [W.S.] Merwin's poems, as it's hard to talk about a feeling or a smell. It is what it is, but so much so that it overwhelms both sense and the senses. I aspire to something about his work, that imbues his poems, though I'm not sure I could say what that is. A purity, maybe, the kind of purity that comes from being beaten, like steel.
The ancients waited for cherry blossoms, grieved when they were gone, and lamented their passing in countless poems. How very ordinary the poems had seemed to Sachiko when she read them as a girl, but now she knew, as well as one could know, that grieving over fallen cherry blossoms was more than a fad or convention.
Some of Mr. Gregory's poems have merely appeared in The New Yorker ; others are New Yorker poems: the inclusive topicality, the informed and casual smartness, the flat fashionable irony, meaningless because it proceeds from a frame of reference whose amorphous superiority is the most definite thing about it they are the trademark not simply of a magazine but of a class.
I write poems. I'm often laughed at for doing so. My friends and foes, who were born in 1980's or even later aren't savvy with this concept of the reading and writing poems. They're probably not at fault because while they were being brought up in their respective environments, they weren't really taught how to appreciate poetry. Sadly, those same indifferent souls are now raising their children in the same robotic way, keeping them away from an art form as pure as poetry. Anyway, on the path my life, my poems, written and unwritten, are spread throughout like breadcrumbs. Alas! I'm savouring these breadcrumbs alone because no one has chosen to walk by me, maybe because they're skeptic about the taste of these crumbs. They've hypothetically assumed that these crumbs, these poems are bitter. Sigh! They aren't courageous enough to gather the strength to actually taste them. Perhaps this way, the real sweetness of my crumbs, of my poems stays obscured to them. But I haven't let them crush this sweetness beneath their feet and that's why, I've chosen to walk alone instead. How can I not savour these crumbs if I already know that they're leading me to the apex of my life? How can I not write poems if a voice inside me is constantly pecking my hands to give it a form? This voice is my meditation. This voice is my shadow, a shadow which is stubborn enough to remain intact even when I'll be gone. This voice is my concrete, the concrete that I'm made up of. This voice is my power, the power that will shake your senses. This voice is my poetry.
Supriya Kaur Dhaliwal
... woman is frequently praised as the more "creative" sex. She does not need to make poems, it is argued; she has no drive to make poems, because she is privileged to make babies. A pregnancy is as fulfilling as, say, Yeats' Sailing to Byzantium.... To call a child a poem may be a pretty metaphor, but it is a slur on the labor of art.
I know I'll keep writing poems. That's the constant. I don't know about novels. They're hard. It takes so much concentrated effort. When I'm writing a novel it's pretty much all I can do. I get bored. It takes months. Movies do the same thing. It's all-encompassing. It feels like I'm going to end up writing poems, short stories and screenplays.
If we will admit time into our thoughts at all, the mythologies, those vestiges of ancient poems, wrecks of poems, so to speak, the world's inheritance,... these are the materials and hints for a history of the rise and progress of the race; how, from the condition of ants, it arrived at the condition of men, and arts were gradually invented. Let a thousand surmises shed some light on this story.
Henry David Thoreau
Poems give us permission to be unsure, in ways we must be if we are ever to learn anything not already known. If you look with open eyes at your actual life, it's always going to be the kind of long division problem that doesn't work out perfectly evenly. Poems let you accept the multiplicity and complexity of the actual, they let us navigate the unnavigable, insoluble parts of our individual fates and shared existence.
So what rhyming poems do is they take all these nearby sound curves and remind you that they first existed that way in your brain. Before they meant something specific, they had a shape and a way of being said. And now, yes, gloom and broom are floating fifty miles away from each other in you mind because they refer to different notions, but they're cheek-by-jowl as far as your tongue is concerned. And that's what a poem does. Poems match sounds up the way you matched them when you were a tiny kid, using that detachable front phoneme.
But Carroll's were more convoluted, and they struck me as funny in a new way: 1) Babies are illogical. 2) Nobody is despised who can manage a crocodile. 3) Illogical persons are despised. Therefore, babies cannot manage crocodiles. And: 1) No interesting poems are unpopular among people of real taste. 2) No modern poetry is free from affectation. 3) All of your poems are on the subject of soap bubbles. 4) No affected poetry is popular among people of taste. 5) Only a modern poem would be on the subject of soap bubbles. Therefore, all your poems are uninteresting.
Emily Kendal Frey's The Grief Performance is a book that condenses a journey of finding and re-finding loss into beautiful packages. The packages are the poems and they sit shiny and new on every page of this fabulous and generous book. I want to go into the world that these poems create, just so that I can be given these terrifying presents again and again. I know you will, too. See you there.
The poems in Helena Mesa's virtuosic first book, Horse Dance Underwater, run with such speed, verve, and alacrity they leave you breathless, exhilarated, and transformed as if the purest kind of song had lifted you into the air. By this quickness of language finding lyric speech, Mesa's poems remind us of art's joyous and ecstatic effects.
He was all emotion all the time, constantly talking about his feelings and his profound love for her. He was minutes from getting his first period. He wrote poems too. It's my personal belief that if men are writing poems, they're making up for something else like a big hair back, or one ball. Not that one ball is a bad thing. Especially since I don't know any females who are dying to their their hands on a set of balls. The way I see it, the less balls, the better.
Read poems to yourself in the middle of the night. Turn on a single lamp and read them while you're alone in an otherwise dark room or while someone else sleeps next to you. Read them when you're wide awake in the early morning, fully alert. Say them over to yourself in a place where silence reigns and the din of the culture "" the constant buzzing noise that surrounds us "" has momentarily stopped. These poems have come from a great distance to find you.
I'd say that most of these [poems in Jason Mashak's book SALTY AS A LIP] are just straightforward enough, but not entirely explainable or attributable to a single cause/effect, which makes them the kind of poems I want to read many times... 'Salty as a lip' is my favorite. It's so alive: strange and human / earthy and raw. Mysterious but grounded. Mashak has manifested paradox, it seems. Bravo!
I write poems about relationships, love relationships, and I'm not able to do that all the time. I could go two years without writing poems, and then write a dozen. Having a novel to work on, with the intricate puzzle of character and plot to work out, is satisfying for the time there is no poetry.
I would read the Shel Silverstein poems, Dr. Seuss, and I noticed early on that poetry was something that just stuck in my head and I was replaying those rhymes and try to think of my own. In English, the only thing I wanted to do was poetry and all the other kids were like, "Oh, man. We have to write poems again?" and I would have a three-page long poem. I won a national poetry contest when I was in fourth grade for a poem called "Monster In My Closet.
I've always been intrigued with the male characters in novels like 'Pride and Prejudice' such as Mr. Darcy, and this poem is part of a series of poems that explore desire and obsessions. The poems have been sitting in a drawer for a few years, so I decided to dust them off and work on them again since I have not written a new poem in more than three years. I'm not sure anything will become of the series, but at least it gives me something to work on in a period where I feel very uncreative.
Poem for Liu Ya-tzu I cannot forget how in Canton we drank tea and in Chungking went over our poems when leaves were yellowing. Thirty-one years ago and now we come back at last to the ancient capital Peking. In this season of falling flowers I read your beautiful poems. Be careful not to be torn inside. Open your vision to the world. Don't say that waters of Kumming Lake are too shallow. We can watch fish better here than in the Fuchun River in the south.
When I first encountered the poems of Jon Woodward, I was stunned into the state that is my life's joy-I was in the presence of the inimitable. Uncanny Valley extends that experience-almost into another dimension. These apocalyptic, pixilated poems forge a mythology of our ravaged culture, one that might have been written in the future. If you want poetry to give you a persimmon on a plate, look elsewhere; if you want to know what happens when seven trees fall on the highway and the story is told by a stutterer, this is the book, and it could only have been written by Woodward.
Don't read books! Don't chant poems! When you read books your eyeballs wither away leaving the bare sockets. When you chant poems your heart leaks out slowly with each word. People say reading books is enjoyable. People say chanting poems is fun. But if your lips constantly make a sound like an insect chirping in autumn, you will only turn into a haggard old man. And even if you don't turn into a haggard old man, it's annoying for others to have to hear you. It's so much better to close your eyes, sit in your study, lower the curtains, sweep the floor, burn incense. It's beautiful to listen to the wind, listen to the rain, take a walk when you feel energetic, and when you're tired go to sleep.
If I could sum up my poetry in a few well-chosen words, the result might be a poem. Several years ago, when I was asked to say something on this topic, I came up with the notion that for me the making of poems is both a commemoration (a moment captured) and an evocation (the archaeologist manque side of me digging into something buried and bringing it to light). But I also said that I find the processes that bring poems into being mysterious, and I wouldn't really wish to know them; the thread that links the first unwilled impulse to the object I acknowledge as the completed poem is a tenuous one, easily broken. If I knew the answers to these riddles, I would write more poems, and better ones. "Simple Poem" is as close as I can get to a credo': Simple Poem I shall make it simple so you understand. Making it simple will make it clear for me. When you have read it, take me by the hand As children do, loving simplicity. This is the simple poem I have made. Tell me you understand. But when you do Don't ask me in return if I have said All that I meant, or whether it is true.
When I was a boy, I choked on a piece of candy outside the kitchen window for a few minutes while watching my parents making dinner. I thought I was going to die, but I didn't want to scare them. Our existence was so separate, a dying and a doing well, an outside and an inside. Trey Moody's poems hover in that cold, wet, refrigerator-lit place between the dying and the doing well, the outside and the inside. His poems are the thoughts of the person you love who is always standing behind you, slowly and silently suffocating. But they're not afraid to say hello, and please, and I'm scared.
What do you have in mind after you graduate?" What I always thought I had in mind was getting some big scholarship to graduate school or a grant to study all over Europe, and then I thought I'd be a professor and write books of poems or write books of poems and be an editor of some sort. Usually I had these plans on the tip of my tongue. "I don't really know," I heard myself say. I felt a deep shock, hearing myself say that, because the minute I said it, I knew it was true.
The nobility of Teresa Leo's poems is that they are not disposed to hide from the dark-rather, they display a mind that tends toward obsession and brooding, that works against fatality like fingers at a knot. The firm, attentive mind on display and the lucid unfolding of the poems are the life instinct seeking and finding its way through again and again. Love and beauty are the argument, but they don't win easily. Bloom in Reverse works through elegy toward survival with moving persistence, both driven and compelling.
Anna Journey, in her new book of poems, Vulgar Remedies, creates an alchemical self whose shimmering limbic / alembic lyrics distill the mysterious terrors of childhood, the dangerous passions of adults, into her own honey-dusk 'voodun': protective, purified to gold. Poetry is always a time machine: here we are invisible travelers to a bewitched past, a beautifully occluded future. These poems are erotic, vertiginous, revelatory, their dazzling lyric force reflecting profound hermetic life.
And the view was suddenly clear to me. The world opened out to its grim beyonds and I realized that, at forty, one must learn the rigors of acceptance. Capitalize it: Acceptance. I needed to accept what was put before me--be it a watery grave in Ireland's only natural fjord, or a return to the city and its grayer intensities, or a wordless exile in some steaming Cambodian swamp hole, or poems or no poems, or children or not, lovers or not, illness or otherwise, success or its absence. I would accept all that was put in my way, from here on through until I breathed my last.
And the view was suddenly clear to me. The world opened out to its grim beyonds and I realized that, at forty, one must learn the rigors of acceptance. Capitalize it: Acceptance. I needed to accept what was put before me-be it a watery grave in Ireland's only natural fjord, or a return to the city and its grayer intensities, or a wordless exile in some steaming Cambodian swamp hole, or poems or no poems, or children or not, lovers or not, illness or otherwise, success or its absence. I would accept all that was put in my way, from here on through until I breathed my last.
Memory, faith, and the natural world as both witness to the cycle of human life and healer to a questioning heart are at the core of this lovely and lyrical collection of poems. The weather changes, people come and go from cities and towns, babies are born, grow up and depart from their parents' arms, but still, the countryside and its rituals sustain the people and creatures who know how to read the signs of the seasons. In these pages, Laura Grace Weldon shares those signs with us; her poems are the fruit of a wonderful harvest.
With ferocity and extraordinary craft, Lizzie Harris has made a book of poems that resonates far beyond the personal stories it tells. Stop Wanting reveals, in every lyric, its author's profound metaphorical gifts. In its ironies and intensities, it brings to mind a writer like the young Sylvia Plath, though what is startling about Harris' s work is the way it combines those gifts with a muted, deft self-awareness. Most of all, these are wonderfully shaped, powerful, and surprising poems-a startling debut.
Have you reckon'd a thousand acres much? have you reckon'd the earth much? Have you practis'd so long to learn to read? Have you felt so proud to get at the meaning of poems? Stop this day and night with me and you shall possess the origin of all poems, You shall possess the good of the earth and sun, (there are millions of suns left, ) You shall no longer take things at second or third hand, nor look through the eyes of the dead, nor feed on the spectres in books, You shall not look through my eyes either, nor take things from me, You shall listen to all sides and filter them from your self.
The poems in Katherine Soniat's new collection, The Swing Girl, weave emotion's 'spray going farther than thought' with the 'bedrock things' of the trod-upon world. These poems eddy and pool in unpredictable and often surprising ways, much as the mind moves in its twilight state between waking and sleep. The fluidity of their cadence and the luminosity of their imagery carry the reader to the wellspring of poetry itself, that deep delight of which Robert Penn Warren spoke, whose source is, in Soniat's words, 'beauty on its way to being mystery.'
Kathryn Stripling Byer
It is natural to speak of hymns as "poems, " indiscriminately, for they have the same structure. But a hymn is not necessarily a poem, while a poem that can be sung as a hymn is something more than a poem. Imagination makes poems; devotion makes hymns. There can be poetry without emotion, but a hymn never. A poem may argue; a hymn must not. In short to be a hymn, what is written must express spiritual feelings and desires. The music of faith, hope and charity will be somewhere in its strain.